Photo: Butch Dill / Associated Press 2018
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Slowly but surely, the Timberwolves have begun to find their way behind cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
The next step in their development will be adjusting to another head coach.
Wiggins scored 25 of his 28 points in the first half and Towns had 28 points and 18 rebounds, helping host Minnesota take charge early and breeze by the LeBron James-less Lakers 108-86 on Sunday before head coach Tom Thibodeau was fired.
Jeff Teague scored all of his 15 points in the first half and finished with 11 assists for the T’wolves, who raised their home record to 14-6 — 8-2 against Western Conference foes.
Thibodeau was dismissed about an hour after the victory, near the halfway point of his third season in charge that started with turmoil around disgruntled All-Star Jimmy Butler.
Scott Layden will remain the general manager overseeing the basketball operations and assistant coach Ryan Saunders, son of former Minnesota head coach Flip Saunders, will be the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Thibodeau was 97-107 with the T’wolves, who returned to the playoffs last spring after a 13-year absence before losing in the first round to Houston.
The Wolves (19-21) moved into 11th place in the conference, two games behind the eighth-place Lakers (21-19). The Wolves are 15-12 since Butler was traded to Philadelphia. Their defense produced season bests in points (86) and field-goal percentage (36.8) allowed.
“Every game now counts,” Wiggins said. “You never know what position you’re going to be in at the end, so every day you have to play like you’re fighting for your life.”
Lance Stephenson had 14 points for the Lakers, 1-5 without James since he strained his groin in the Christmas Day win in Oakland.
Wizards 116, Thunder 98: Bradley Beal scored 25 points to help visiting Washington beat Oklahoma City. The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook had 22 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists for his 12th triple-double of the season and the 116th of his career.
Raptors 121, Pacers 105: Norman Powell scored a season-high 23 points, Pascal Siakam had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and host Toronto snapped Indiana’s six-game winning streak. Kyle Lowry had 12 points and eight assists after missing six games because of a sore lower back.
Hornets 119, Suns 113: Kemba Walker scored 18 of his 29 points in the final 4½ minutes, and visiting Charlotte handed Phoenix its sixth straight loss.
Nets 117, Bulls 100: D’Angelo Russell scored 28 points, DeMarre Carroll had 20 points off the bench and visiting Brooklyn won its third straight. Zach LaVine had 27 points for Chicago.
Clippers 106, Magic 96: Tobias Harris scored 28 points and host Los Angeles overcame a slow start to beat Orlando for the 11th straight time.
Hawks 106, Heat 82: Trae Young scored 19 points, John Collins had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and host Atlanta snapped a three-game skid.
McCaw waived by Cavs: Cleveland waived swingman Patrick McCaw, who was signed to a non-guaranteed contract last month after a protracted holdout with the Warriors. McCaw played in three games for the Cavs, averaging 1.7 points in 17.7 minutes per game. Cleveland added point guard Cameron Payne on a 10-day contract.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/T-wolvestop-Lakersand-thenfire-coach-13513028.php.